One of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme's mandatory requirements is to produce a 4,000 words long extended essay, which should be submitted as an independent piece of research.
All IB students must complete the extended essay assignment regardless of the subjects they are taking because together with CAS and TOK, it is a core module of the IB programme.
An extended essay provides students with the opportunity to choose any suitable topic of their choice and demonstrate their knowledge and capability beyond what they were taught in the classroom. This assignment sets the stage for students to hone their research and writing skills for Bachelor's and Master's level coursework.
The extended essay is assigned to students in the second term of the IB program's first year. All students are expected to work closely with their supervisor to finalise the essay topic and the research questions.
The project involves submitting one draft to get the supervisor's feedback before submitting the second and the final version of the extended essay. A short viva voce must be included at the end of the essay.
So how significantly does the extended essay assignment contribute towards the overall grade?
The extended essay is of critical importance for the following reasons:
If you chose to undertake the extended essay in world studies, then you will be required to conduct extensive interdisciplinary research on an issue of global significance.
Extended essays are marked on a scale from 0 to 34 by external examines chosen by the IB itself.
The score you will achieve in the assignment will relate to one of the following bands:
Please click here to check how your grade in the extended essay assignment affects the overall diploma score.
Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2019 bulletin)
|Extended Essay Grade||% of Students Awarded Grade|
|N (No grade awarded)||1.0%|
Selecting an enjoyable and manageable topic for the extended essay is perhaps the most exciting yet challenging part of the whole process. In a nutshell, you will be required to research a topic in one of the six subjects you are undertaking for the IB Programme.
The selection criteria are based on the analysis of an issue of global significance in a specific context. For example, you can investigate the technological, environmental, medical, or cultural trends from the local perspective.
Here are some tips for choosing the best extended essay topic:
Making a choice for the topic can often be overwhelming. Think about the issues you enjoy the most, and more specifically, why you want to learn about them. This will help you come up with many ideas that you can review, compare, and pick from.
Note: The IBO approves the proposed topic.
Once the topic has been approved, you can proceed to formulate the research questions (s). A poorly planned research question can cause complications at a later stage, so make sure to take your time to develop a question that would genuinely add value to the existing literature.
The answer to the formulated research question should not be a simple yes or no. It should instead provide valuable information in a larger context. The research question should be focused and relevant to the title. If the research question includes a hypothesis, then there is no obligation on your part to provide it right or wrong. Your job is to test the hypothesis and reveal the facts only.
The question should not necessarily start with words like "Is", "Will", "Should", "Why", "How", or "Does". Merely asserting that "yes, this is correct", or "no, this is not correct" is not appropriate.
The highest-scoring essays usually address a research question that starts with broader phrases such as, "An investigation of", "Exploring the idea", "An analysis of", "To what extent", "A review of", or "Examining the role". Or it could simply be a hypothesis statement that you aim to test.
If you set out to answer a research question without contemplating the resources required to address it, then you are making a fatal mistake. Whether the essay research is primary or secondary, we cannot understate the importance of a well-thought-out plan to gather relevant supporting academic sources.
However, in most cases, it is only possible to base your essay on secondary data because conducting primary research can involve time and money. But make sure to state your reasons for choosing one method of research over another.
Finally, if you are unable to find a sufficient number of sources on your research question, you can alter it with your supervisor's help.
Here are some suggestions on how to choose an advisor
The extended essay follows the standard essay structure, which includes the introduction, main body, and conclusion. However, it is always recommended to check with your supervisor about the structure you must follow to avoid any mishaps at a later stage.
Your supervisor will provide the necessary guidance and advice to support you throughout the research and writing process.
The project includes up to three reflection rounds with the assigned supervisor, with the final round consisting of an interview, also known as the viva voce.
The extended essay and the reflection meetings provide a much-needed impetus, especially to those required to pass an interview assessment for a place at university and before acceptance for employment.
There are six required components of an extended essay structure:
The title page is where you state the research question you set out to address, the subject you are registered in, your school name, your own name, total word count of the essay, and category (for language essays).
This is where you are required to list the heading and the subheadings with corresponding page numbers. All pages should be numbered using the Microsoft page numbering feature.
This is where you present your arguments, evaluation, comparison, discussion, and analysis of the subject matter. This section's structure varies according to the subject of the essay, but the supporting evidence should accompany every piece of information.
The conclusion section should relate to the thesis statement, the overall scope of the research, and the line of argument taken. It should also reflect on any open questions, research limitations, and any unexplained problems.
A list of academic sources used is provided in the required citation style at the end of the essay. The citation style you need to follow varies subject to subject, but make sure that you consistently use it throughout the essay.
Your school will let you know the deadline for the extended essay assignment. Each school has a different official IB deadline. You will have a year to complete the essay, but unfortunately, most students leave their essay to the last week before the deadline.
Careful planning can help you complete the task promptly and avoid a last-minute crunch. Many students make the fatal mistake of giving too much time to research and reading and end up with very little time to write the essay.
Most schools set their own deadlines for different milestones of the project to help students stay on schedule. Keep in regular contact with your advisor and management to ensure each section is completed in due time.
The viva voice interview allows students to demonstrate the significance of the results of the research. More specifically, students can provide details of the challenges and the successes of their research during the interview.
For example, you could tell your supervisor about the problem you faced during the data collection process, the strategies you employed to overcome them, and how the exercise helped you improve your writing skills.
Here are some amazing topic ideas in various subjects that you can consider for your extended essay.
Discuss the relationship between violent acts and viewing the violence shown on social media platforms.